prep schools in Surrey/West Sussex/Hampshire that would stretch 2 bright children, while catering for the social needs of the one with ASD

(30 Posts)
KarlosKKrinkelbeim Fri 15-Feb-13 19:00:50

I am in something of a niche so far as schools are concerned as you will see from my thread title. I have DS (6) - has ASD, has a statement, 1-2-1 in class (recruited and trained by us) and doing well academically. Social skills progressing but still a looooong way behind the academic skills. I also have DD who is 5 - also bright, very sociable and fitting in well. But quite shy, thrives in small group and would struggle with a large class size in my view.
The school they are at currently is very small, friendly (up til now, tho DS seems to be starting to be excluded from things - only child not invited to parties etc, usual stuff) and we chose it mainly because of the social rather than the academic needs of the DC. But I am increasingly feeling too much has been sacrificed to this.
Neither is being stretched and challenged sufficiently on the academic side and I perceive a danger of disengagement. And to be blunt, if DS is starting to suffer from the exclusion that kids with ASD are classically subject to, we may as well go for a more academic environment which caters for him and DD on that side of things.
If you have got to the end of this, congrats. we are renting our home currently and thus have a free hand to move to a school within the above area, subject to my need to commute to London. Any ideas/suggestions gratefully received.

Flappingandflying Fri 15-Feb-13 20:20:49

Haven't got any suggestions but often academic private schools can be a bit behind in ther knowledge, willingness and capacity to deal with SEN. There is also a very limited amount of one to one support. Whichever school you go for, make sure the SENCO is good, that differentiation is part of the norm. You may find that something very academic and hot housey may well, later on in the school, be a stress which your asd son might not cope with. Is it worth going for separate schools such as all girls for your daughter so that there is no comparison going on which does happen. My eldest has asd and I deliberately sent his younger brother to different schools so he could forge his own path and not get value judgements made on him.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Fri 15-Feb-13 20:48:57

food for thought, thank you. At the moment DD is very adamant she wants to be in the same place as her brother but of course she is still young and sadly, that may change. I don't really want a hot house; just a place where they will both be challenged and moved on as quickly as they need to be.

happygardening Sat 16-Feb-13 08:34:18

I agree with Flapping especially well known academic preps may not be great with your DS. Preps can be quite traditional and teachers can be set in their ways many have teachers who know their job; preparing children for CE and theyve been doing it well for years but will have little or no experience of children with ASD who are on statements, mild to moderate dyslexia/dypraxia will be often the extent of their experiences. I know others will disagree and my experience is limited to preps going to 13+ feeding into schools like Eton et al but you do need to be very careful and remember many are struggling to fill their vacancies so might make lots of promises to get your money and your DD! Will he need to be on a 1-2-1 at a prep and whose going to fund this? I believe statements come with extra funding but is this always transferable into the independent sector? Secondlly even if it is not all prep heads may want this. Have you posted on the special needs board they are really helpful on there.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sat 16-Feb-13 13:50:07

DS has 1-2-1 at his current prep funded currently by the LEA and us jointly (we agreed a part-funding deal at tribunal). Statements entirely transferable into independent sector, subject to willingess of school to accommodate. We are well across all that side of things - what I need to know about is other schools I could look at for them both which is why I'm posting here rather than than the SN board with which I am extremely familar. Ultimately my dilemma is not an uncommon one - the high-functioning child whose social skills lag way behind their academic ones. We have prioritsied socialisation in our current choice, but I feel this is leaving them both badly served academically. I do not wnat them both at different schools and that is not what they want either.

happygardening Sat 16-Feb-13 15:05:27

Where are you hoping your DS will go onto? Are you considering senior schools that take at 11+ or 13+ The first thing is to decode what your long term plan might be. DS2 went to a boarding prep at 7 yrs old we already had our eye on two senior schools and thus looked for a prep school that prepared its pupils for CE into super selectiveS. If you thinking of a scholarship at 13+ into a super selective e.g. Eton then you ned to find a prep with recent and successful experience of it.
If I was in your situation I would talk to some and see what their response is. I only really know about Windelsham nr Worthing it has a very good reputation for pastoral care and friends whose DC's have been there have nothing but praise for it. There are plenty of others I suspect in your situation you're just going to have to speak to the individual head. A word of caution IME and I think others will back this up preps are frequently conservative with a small c because the heads often are it goes with the territory and in a small prep school the heads influence reaches much further than in a big school. If for what ever reason your DC does not fit the expected "norm" then they can find it difficult.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sat 16-Feb-13 18:59:16

I do not see DS boarding in the future. That might change of course as he is still only 6. But his emotional maturity is behind his academic level and I do not see him being ready for boarding at 13, if ever. His need now is for an environment where he can develop his social skills while being stimluated to the right academic level. I actually think it's extremely foolish with any child this young to start prognosticating about where they'll be in 7 years time, certainly with a child with ASD it's madness.
We have considered Windlesham but I don't get the impression it's any great shakes academically either.

happygardening Sat 16-Feb-13 19:20:28

"We have considered Windelsham but I don't the impression it's any great shakes academically,"
Ive no axe to grind one way or another but according to its website a pupil came top in the famously difficult KS into Eton so that would imply that academically they can be bloody marvellous!

goinggetstough Sat 16-Feb-13 19:26:18

I am not sure where you got the impression Windlesham was not up to much academically. In the last 4 years they have had 2 Kings scholars at Eton, academic awards at Marlborough, Downe House and Sevenoaks. I can't find last year's list, but I am sure the school would send you one. They send their pupils to a variety of schools as they take in a wide ability range. In addition to academic awards they also win many others. So far this year they have 7 awards, a mixture of art, dance, sport and an all rounder award at schools including Roedean, Rugby, Bryanston, Tudor Hall, Bedes and Millfield.

The learning support department is excellent. We have first hand experience of this but not directly for ASD. Their pastoral support too is excellent which is confirmed by a number of people on MN if you search for Windlesham. There are also lots of chances to participate in drama, music and art which gives a variety of children a chance to shine.

Windlesham may not be the school for your DCs, but please go and have a look and don't disregard it because you think it's not academic enough because that it not true. Do PM me if you have any questions.

Good luck with your search.

Mutteroo Sat 16-Feb-13 23:00:03

Your searching in such a wide area. Have you narrowed down to your favoured part of that area yet? Also have you discussed your children's needs with any prep schools? Some will be happy to accept your DS, sadly some will not.

This will sound like a Windlesham love-in, but I also know of pupils who have attended there. Some have moved on to high achieving schools, some have not. It's a good 'horses for courses' kind of school.

There are so many schools to choose from in the area you've stated!

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sat 16-Feb-13 23:11:25

I'm aware it's a wide area, but we have not yet bought a house, so we have a very free hand and I'm keen to cast my bread wide upon the waters, as my requirements are quite specific. Provided we are within commuting distance of London we can look at a wide range of places.
Windlesham's most recent ISI was not that great and it didn't strike me as a place that would be good for DS. Cherry-picking kids who present few challnges and stuffing them through is a lazy cop-out and I dpn;t see why I should part with good money for that. I need a place that's intersted in the challenges of education not just the quick-wins.

mummytime Sat 16-Feb-13 23:24:58

If you move area and thus LA I would not assume you will get the same deal with regard to joint funding of a 1-2-1 TA.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sat 16-Feb-13 23:27:07

Once a statement is settled, the LEA you move to just have to pick it up and assume the obligations it sets out.

goinggetstough Sun 17-Feb-13 00:07:00

OP obviously you are not impressed by what you have read about Windlesham which IMO is a shame. We all want what is best for our DCs and to achieve that we look for different types of schools to achieve this. So OP I respect your view.

I would however ask where you got the idea that the pupils were cherry picked. It is a non selective school which at the time of the ISI report had 67 DCs with special needs who were receiving help at school and 3 of them had statements. I have had 2 DC at W who were at different ends of the academic spectrum and they both did very well. One of them receiving help from the learning support department which helped him reach his potential and was praised and described as excellent in the ISI report.

Yes, it did also comment that lessons were rated as good to outstanding and that a few lessons were viewed as not brisk enough and too reliant on worksheets. Points I would hope the school has improved in the last 2 years.

Bessie123 Sun 17-Feb-13 00:11:01

I loved the look of Frensham Heights in Surrey. It seems very creative and supportive, and encourages children to express themselves. It's expensive though

Bessie123 Sun 17-Feb-13 00:12:34

Frensham heights

It's not a prep school but does prep and secondary ages

FillyPutty Sun 17-Feb-13 00:58:52

More House would take your son from Y4, probably too late? www.morehouseschool.co.uk/

Very good boys school. Worth a visit. LEA should fund it. May not be academic enough.

Not far from Frensham Heights.

happygardening Sun 17-Feb-13 09:06:40

The OP wants co-ed and academic or at least one that "stretches and challenges" her DC's appropriately.
I'm interested that you feel it's inappropriate to start prognosticating about future senior schools most jointing prep schools have some idea as to whether or not they want their DC to move to the sort of senior school that starts at 11+ or 13+. Some preps do both but many don't and those that claim they do often have a mass exodus at the end of yr 6. Also to have your DC in a prep that does one and then decide you want the other is tedious because you then might have to move your DC which I would have thought in your circumstances was undesirable.
As I've already said there are lots of preps in the counties you mentioned from very highly regarded like Windelsham through to tiny crammars. Some have normal short days and are nothing more that glorified primaries with small class sizes pushy teachers and often ridiculous uniforms other especially those with a mx of day and boarders will have Saturday school games 4-5 times a week long days often till 6 pm and the extra curricular activities in the evening then some will be a compromise between these extremes. IME preps are also funny animals Windlesham aside which always gets rave posting on MN one mothers fab prep is another mothers nightmare. Your situation is relatively unusual so I suspect you would be best to subscribe to the GSC and just phone up a few that you like the look of.

Waferthinmint Sun 17-Feb-13 09:15:13

Amesbury, haslemere

mummytime Sun 17-Feb-13 12:01:17

I'm still concerned that if you move to Surrey you may not get the provision you want. Please look at this.. Surrey has a number of special schools as well as a lot of high performing ASD children at state schools.

sailorsgal Mon 18-Feb-13 15:15:15

My info might be a bit outdated but Westbourne House used to have an excellent reputation. I know someone who was dyslexic and did very well there. I'm not sure of the ratio of boarders to day pupils. Very good pastoral care if I remember.

mary21 Mon 18-Feb-13 16:24:21

be careful. You are wrong to assume once you have a statement the new authority has to uphold it. This is only true for the first 6 weeks. They then can choose to reasesss and may choose to do something different. Check out your code of practice with a fine tooth comb.

Flappingandflying Mon 18-Feb-13 16:41:29

As someone who works in education, my understanding was always that LEAs do not have to sustain the same statement. I think they have to keep it for a short time but then they would ask for an annual review and may very well change it. Given that your statement does not cost them vast amounts you might be OK but please bear in mind that it is not a given.

Flappingandflying Mon 18-Feb-13 16:42:00

Sorry, that is if you move from one lea to another.

MamaChoo Tue 19-Feb-13 10:15:45

Dunannie/Dunhurst? (Bedales pre-prep and prep?)

lovelazysundays Thu 14-Mar-13 18:41:45

Ashdown House? Excellent Learning Support and high academic standards. Lovely area too - on the edge of the Ashdown Forest. Known as a boarding school but does have a growing number of day pupils.

Buttercup38 Sat 23-Mar-13 09:59:09

Whichever school you choose has to offer the level of learning support your child needs - as well as your child having the ability to be able to cope with the curriculum demands. There's absolutely no point in pursuing a school if that criteria is not met.

Incidentally, I toured Windlesham House School, met knowledgable and friendly staff (from the reception, admissions, teaching staff...) and saw high-calibre work the children had produced in various subjects (geography, science, DT, art...). They have great facilities, many of their graduates have won a mass of scholarships (amongst the rest many have been accepted to very selective schools) and they rate highly in various school reviews. I was very impressed.

lottie4576 Mon 19-Aug-13 18:50:17

It sounds like you should probably go down a small prep school route with small classes. Tavistock and Summerhill could possibly suit you! Small classes, small school and the kids there are lovely probably the nicest pupils of any school I've been to

Inclusionist Mon 19-Aug-13 22:34:29

I would suggest looking at schools that specialise is supporting SpLD for your DS as there is a commonality in some areas of executive dysfunction between ASD and dyslexia/dyspraxia. Bruern Abbey maybe?

Failing that a school with a strong Learning Support department. My DS is going to Lambrook which achieves scholarships to decent schools and prides itself on it's learning support.

duchesse Mon 19-Aug-13 22:42:17

DS and DD1 went to Yateley Manor, which was very good 10 years ago at stretching them and also coped with DS who has ASD type issues. They were very good with behaviour management. It's been a few years so I don't know what it's like now though.

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